Advice on varieties of Chinese/Cantonese
Thread poster: Neil Coffey

Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:35
French to English
+ ...
Apr 8, 2010

Firstly, I hope this is the most appropriate group to post to...!

I'm looking for a bit of advice about Cantonese: I'm project-managing some translation work whose destination audience is in Hong Kong. Can anyone tell me how much variation there is between (a) written Cantonese in Hong Kong and Cantonese-speaking areas of China; (b) Chinese written by speakers of Cantonese and speakers of other varieties?

(Or put another way: to what extent do I need specifically to work with translators and proofreaders from Hong Kong?)

My concern is that I understand that the writing system is essentially universal across varieties of Chinese, but I imagine that this isn't actually completely true and that there are still some writing customs particular to the different regions/varieties, so there would be a danger in having a Mandarin speaker perform some of the translation and then expecting it to be "magically" usable by a Hong Kong speaker. I also understand that Traditional rather than Simplified Chinese is common in Hong Kong?

Thanks for people's advice!


Frédéric Pizzaia  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:35
English to French
+ ...
Information Apr 9, 2010


From what I know, Cantonese spoken in Hong Kong and cantonese-speaking provinces in China is quite similar (writing and grammar). However, like for instance French French or Swiss French, you may have some local varieties.

The writing system remains the same in Hong Kong and Macau : traditional Chinese. In China, cantonese-speaking provinces may use only simplified chinese as required by the Chinese central government.

If you need a document to be translated into Cantonese Chinese, then you need somebody from Hong Kong or Macau. I wouldn't trust a Chinese from mainland China to do this job. The main reasons are : a) Cantonese would be a foreign language for them and not their mother tongue, b) they can't write traditional characters, only simplified characters.

Let me know if you need more insights.




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Advice on varieties of Chinese/Cantonese

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